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FRANKLIN, KY – Trainer Jack Sisterson likes the idea of Calumet Farm homebred Channel Cat taking home the top prize in the Calumet Turf Cup on September 11 at Kentucky Downs.
“It would be pretty cool to win a race like that for the farm,” he said.
The all-turf FanDuel Meet at Kentucky Downs, which offers the richest purses in America, runs September 5, 6, 8, 9, 11, and 12.
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After considering the $750,000 Sword Dancer (G1) at Saratoga Race Course on Saturday, Sisterson said the 6-year-old chestnut son of Calumet stallion English Channel will wait a few weeks for the $1 million Calumet Turf Cup (G2).
“He’s doing great,” Sisterson, the former University of Louisville soccer player turned private trainer for Calumet Farm, said in Saratoga Springs, NY. “He could have run in the Sword Dancer, but I think the most logical spot would be to bring him home. He’s won at Kentucky Downs in the past, so he handles that sort of configuration. It might come up a touch lighter than the Sword Dancer and it’s a million dollars and it’s a ‘Win and You’re In’ for the Breeders’ Cup (Turf [G1]). It makes more sense to us to go down there.”
The winner of the 1 1/2-mile Calumet Turf Cup, which will be broadcast on NBC, gets a fees-paid spot in the $4 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf at Del Mar near San Diego on November 6.
Channel Cat, then trained by Todd Pletcher, picked up the first stakes win of his career in the 2018 Dueling Grounds Derby. He won the Bowling Green (G2) at Saratoga last summer and earned the prized Grade 1 victory in the Man o’ War in May at Belmont Park. In his most recent start, he was the beaten favorite, finishing fourth in the Bowling Green.
Sisterson said that Channel Cat, who he has trained since last year, will breeze on Sunday and will ship back to Kentucky on Monday or Tuesday. As usual, Sisterson said Calumet Farm is aiming to run for the big purses offered at Kentucky Downs.
“We’ll kind of try to be aggressive in the entry box. If we get in, that’s a different question,” he said. “I’m sure multiple guys are doing the same thing. We’ve still got a lot of 2-year-olds to run down there, horses with conditions. We’ll try a couple of stakes races. We will try and support the meet as much as possible.”
Calumet Farm is owned by Brad Kelley, the self-made billionaire from Bowling Green and Franklin, KY, who owned Kentucky Downs in partnership or outright from 1997 until 2007.
Calumet’s American Derby winner Tango Tango Tango is also headed to a Kentucky Downs stakes, the $600,000 Franklin-Simpson (G2) – 1 of 5 graded stakes on the track’s blockbuster September 11 card. In his most recent start, Tango Tango Tango was second in the Bruce D. (G1) (formerly the Secretariat) at a mile at Arlington Park.
“I don’t think he will get the mile and 5/16 for the Dueling Grounds Derby, so we’re going to cut him back in trip,” Sisterson said. “Sometimes, that 6 1/2 might lean more towards a mile with the uphill incline finish. We’ll give him a shot in the Franklin-Simpson.”
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